Barricaded in a bombed-out house in eastern Ukraine, some Ukrainian soldiers keep a scrupulous count of their ammunitionfor which they use a door as a kind of ledger.
On the door the figures for mortar shells, smoke shells, shrapnel shells and flares are written in chalk.
But despite the large influx of weapons from the West, Ukrainian forces are outmatched by Russian forces in the battle for the eastern Donbas region, where the fighting is taking place largely through the exchange of artillery.
Unlike the Russians, who can maintain a continuous, intense fire for hoursthe Ukrainian defense cannot match them in weapons or ammunition, and must be more selective in using its arsenal.
Dozens and dozens of mortar shells are piled up at the eastern Ukraine outpost, but the commander of the troops, Mykhailo Strebizh, known by the nom de guerre Gaiduk, lamented that if his fighters were subjected to heavy shelling of artillery, his reserve would only be enough to return fire for about four hours, in the best of cases.
The Ukrainian authorities claim that Western aidof which so much is said, is not enough and does not reach the battlefield with due speed to face this bloody and lethal phase of the war.
While Russia doesn’t talk about its war casualties, Ukrainian authorities say up to 200 of its soldiers are dying every day.
Russian forces are slowly gaining ground in the east, but experts say they are suffering heavy losses.
Last week, the United States pledged an additional $1 billion in military assistance to help stop or reverse Russian advances.
However, experts say these deliveries are not keeping pace with Ukraine’s needs, in part because the defense industry is not building weapons fast enough.
“We are changing from peacetime to wartime,” said Francois Heisbourg, a senior adviser at the Paris-based think tank Foundation for Strategic Research.
“In peacetime, the rate of production is low, and increasing the rate of production means that you first have to build industrial facilities… It is above all a defense industrial challenge of great magnitude”, he pointed out.
The Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany reported last week that the United States has fulfilled about half of its pledges of military support to Ukraine, and Germany about a third.
Poland and Great Britain have fulfilled a large part of their commitments.
A large number of infantrymen say they cannot even match the Russians shot for shot, or shell for shell.
A few days ago this month, the Ukrainian ambassador in Madrid, Serhii Phoreltsev, thanked Spain – which announced with great fanfare a shipment of 200 tons of military aid in April – but said that the ammunition included was only enough for about two hours of combat .